Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera has been given the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders for her tireless activism to promote LGBT rights in Uganda in a country that openly demonizes LGBT identity and where lawmakers have sort to introduce the death penalty for repeated offenses relating to homosexuality.
From the BBC:
The Geneva-based award jury said Ms Nabagesera had appeared on national television and issued press statements on behalf of Uganda’s gay community.
However, because of threats and harassment she now shifted “from house to house, afraid to stay long in the same place”, their statement said.
“[She is] an exceptional woman of a rare courage, fighting under death threat for human dignity and the rights of homosexuals and marginalised people in Africa,” jury chairman Hans Thoolen said.
The Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders is named after the late British lawyer who became the first head of the human rights organisation Amnesty International.
Nabagesera is the founder and executive director of Freedom to Roam Uganda and has argued on public radio and television against anti-LGBT violence. She has been the victim of assault on several occasions due to her public advocacy.
In fact, Nabagesera was targeted as part of the Ugandan tabloid The Rolling Stone’s 2010 “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak” campaign in which people believed to be LGBT were “exposed,” though many were not in fact LGBT and several were in long-term heterosexual relationships.
The tabloid, no affiliation to the American publication of the same name, was prevented from publishing subsequent material by a court order, but the damage was done for Nabagesera who has been forced into a somewhat nomadic life, moving from house to house and never staying in one place too long for her own safety.
Fellow LGBT rights defender David Kato was murdered in Uganda earlier this year. While Ugandan officials say the murder was not related to Mr. Kato’s sexuality and not a hate crime, international human rights groups charge that the murder was never properly investigated.
Below is an interview with Ms. Nabagesera in which she talks about her work and about Kato’s murder:
Ugandan lawmakers have yet to take up the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 which, under certain circumstances, could mean the death penalty for being gay. Mindful that the end of Parliament is fast approaching, lawmakers have indicated that they may water down the bill and remove the death penalty in favor of reparation therapy so as to garner more support.
LGBT rights advocates caution that until the bill is abandoned entirely there can be no room for complacency.
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